I make scrapbooks for every year of my life, and though I took a break for a few years, my 2015 was so eventful that I was motivated to pick the hobby up again.
While doing a page of events that occurred around this time last year, I revisited some blog entries I wrote at the same time. One of them features lyrics from the song “Big Girls Cry” by Sia. That song hit me hard at the time because it described exactly what I feared I was becoming – someone who is living a mundane life, bored out of her mind, just surviving and not really living. I’ve been that girl before. But there were extenuating circumstances that made me that way. I don’t want to be that girl again.
And for a while it looked like I was escaping that reality. Sure, there were some days like that, but I had a pretty fun year.
But it’s been more than 3 full months into 2016 now and I think I can safely say that I have become exactly what I feared. Most of my days have been like that, and even more now that I live alone. “I come home, on my own, check my phone, nothing though, act busy, order in, pay TV, it’s agony.” Replace “order in” with “eat Doritos” and “pay TV” with “Netflix” and that is my life in a nutshell.
I’m always staring at my phone hoping someone will talk to me but people rarely do. I send messages to my friends and often don’t get a response, or if I do it will only be a few words. I’m not sure I even know what “friendship” means anymore.
I’m not seriously dating anyone. My last relationship wasn’t actually a relationship. Online dating is soulless, insincere, and boring to me. I’m not sure I even know what “relationship” means anymore.
I actually do interact with people quite frequently thanks to rock climbing, but my interactions with others are hollow, never going below surface level. As much as I love climbing and talking about climbing, I want people I can talk about life with.
I get very little joy from my job – I’m just happy that it pays me and that as long as I follow orders and don’t voice my opinion I’m able to lay low for the most part.
When I need to make myself feel better or look cool, I play up the “single career girl living in the big city” aspect of my life, acting like I have way more fun than I really do and like my career is more rewarding than it really is, because that is what people want to hear. I am well aware that these are the aspects of my personality that people like.
Sadly, “peer pressure” is a big reason behind why I moved in the first place. Although I have been enjoying living alone, I wanted something that would make other people view me as successful. My thought process was that I either needed a boyfriend to make that happen, or my own place. And one of those things was significantly easier to obtain than the other.
I think I accomplished that goal, but the problem is that different people have different ideas of what success means.
I said to a friend recently that I feel like everyone around me is happy and successful and I’m not. And he immediately countered by telling me that I have a great job and my own apartment, which not everyone does. And this is true. I am proud of those things.
But that’s not how I define success. I don’t blame him for thinking that way, because that shit’s important, and it’s even more important for certain people. I used to be like that – when I was in school, leading my student group, I felt such an intense passion for my work that it sometimes became all I could think about. But even then, underneath it all, I was still lonely much of the time. I define success by the people who love you. I always have.
My goal in life was never this. I love the fact that I have a career and my own place, but if I had to choose between that and finding love, I would choose love. Of course, I hope that I can have both, and there’s no reason why I can’t, but I know what my priority would be.
Everyone wants what they don’t have. People who are struggling to find a stable job or even one that makes them feel fulfilled will inevitably envy those who do. People who are struggling to find love will inevitably envy those who are in healthy, loving relationships.
I want something “more” than this. I want to be more spontaneous, more adventurous. I want more people in my life who will come along for the ride with me. I want to do less staring at the walls, watching Netflix and scrolling around on the internet for hours. I want to see the people I do currently have in my life far more often. I want to share the minutiae of life with them to make the boring days, which will inevitably always exist, a little bit less so. I want to find my drive and ambition again – not just for work, but for everything. I want to do more stuff solely because I want to, not because I have to.
If I tell my friends this they’re kind of just like, “Yeah, so? Everyone’s life is like that. That’s what being an adult is.” They act like this grasping-at-straws lifestyle is all one can reasonably expect. I can see why they think that. Many, many people live like this. But you don’t have to. It’s not the only way. My life certainly wasn’t always like this. It takes far more effort to break outside of the boxes you sometimes find yourself in, but it’s possible. You just have to think creatively, and by that I mean think for yourself and not about what everyone else is currently doing or has done in the past. And think with confidence – people often have more dreams and great ideas than they realize, they just immediately dismiss them with the thought of, “No, that’s stupid,” or, “No, that would never work.”
Just because something sucks doesn’t mean you have to be complacent about it. Just because a problem is large and intangible doesn’t mean it’s not solvable. Just because a problem can never be solved completely doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
I may have become what I feared, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay this way forever.
In the fast lane
No time for love,
No time for hate
No time for games
Whose soul aches
I come home
On my own,
Check my phone,
I may cry ruining my make up
Wash away all the things you’ve taken
And I don’t care if I don’t look pretty
Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking
I wake up alone
-Big Girls Cry/Sia
Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 23 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie.